come on in! (kitchen island – ikea hack)

You’ve seen parts of our kitchen in roughly half of our posts, but since this is our first indoor project I thought I would formally invite you in.

Our kitchen has had many faces in the eleven months we have lived here. We are pretty confident 95% of our kitchen is Ikea. We know this, not only because the counters, cabinets, and sink scream Ikea; but because darn near everything we have contributed is Ikea. And in true Ikea form it all works beautifully together.

The first thing we took on was the lack of a pantry. Before settling on our current solution (briefly mentioned here), we were using a shelving unit (Kallax series at Ikea) we bought when we lived in Massachusetts. What was once used in our basement to store art supplies was now in the kitchen holding our microwave and filled with everything we could possibly get to fit. (You don’t want to see a picture of that hot mess.)

Once we upgraded to the Norden occasional table to resolve our pantry issues, the shelving unit took center stage and acted as our island. Ryan even attached casters to the bottom so we could freely move it around the room.

I like how big the room feels without it, but it has been so incredibly handy while providing more food storage, I couldn’t object. It has become the most prominent piece in the room especially with the island complete. It’s easily the most sociable place in the house. Every time we have guests over, we find ourselves gathered around the Ikea hacked island cooking, eating, drinking, and talking away. Not to mention all the help it provides while canning.


We use our Ikea hack more than our counter tops. It is our number one go-to and we were able to assemble it for under $100.

Ikea Hack – kitchen island

Here’s what we bought for this project:

  • Kallax shelving unit 30 3/8×30 3/8” for 39.99 – Ikea
  • Casters (Everbilt 2 in. Swivel Non-Marking Rubber Caster) – 3.98
  • Two baskets (Ikea As-Is finds-  $5?)
  • Two LÄMPLIG cutting boards 18×20 ¾” for 9.99 each
  • Rail – 6.99

Like I said above, the first step we took was attaching the casters.


Then, since we already had baskets (from when the unit acted as the art storage) all I had to do was swap fabrics and knitting supplies for potatoes and onions.

For now, we are going to keep using our mix matched woven cubes. One day we will get around to buying two matching. I like leaving the other two spaces open for one of our several cute (and sentimental) wooden bowls and keeping cookbooks at arms reach but ‘out of sight.’

To get the cutting boards ready, Ryan applied mineral oil to help preserve the life of the boards organically. It also helps guard against germs and mold growth.


We like that we can flip the boards to use either side, but didn’t like that they had a tendency to move on you. That’s when we added grippers. Works like a charm.


Another add-on was a bar to the side of the cubed unit. It’s handy for hanging a different utensils for cooking (it also doubled up as a location to dry our Chemex coffee filters). We were able to pick little hooks up (Ikea) for under $3, making this an easy and cheap addition.


There you have it. Our first Ikea hack success. No mess, no fuss and we love it.


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  • Reply
    October 6, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Just in time for the holidays when I needed an Island in my kitchen! Quick Question: where can I buy those grippers and what are they called exactly? Can you please provide me the link to the product. Thanks!

  • Reply
    October 16, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Nice work! I also built a kitchen island based on the kallax shelf, but I have still to fasten the rails to the side as I’m concerned about how the hollow body will withstand the weight load. How did you fasten it, just used ordinary screws or some fastening mechanism? Is it sturdy?

    • Reply
      this natural dream
      October 16, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Thanks! We just used simple wood screws to attach the rail. It is very sturdy, but we don’t plan to hang anything too heavy on it. If you decide to hang something heavier, I would consider using small carriage bolts. That would tie into the shelf better. I hope that helps.

      – Ryan

  • Reply
    Delilah Fernandes
    August 25, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Hi there,

    I am moving to a tiny apartment soon .I love your work on the kallax unit. I too just have enough space for only one kallax. I was wondering how you manage to balance the weight of the wooden boards? I would like to add 2 stools underneath so my kids can chat with me while I prepare meals. Do you think it will hold the weight? Please advise

    Also,, may I suggest that maybe you could buy the kallax door/drawer unit to fit in instead of the basket.

    • Reply
      this natural dream
      August 26, 2016 at 5:36 pm

      The boards don’t give us any grief unless someone pushes firmly on the side that hangs over (a rare occurrence). We like the fact that the boards can be removed to clean underneath and in the sink when things get really messy. Though we have considered securing them to the kallax with an adhesive or even potentially long screws. This DIY island is the gathering point every time we have friends over and a place we sit at often. I feel confident you would be fine with the kids, especially if they know not to use it as a support to get up from the stool.


      • Reply
        Delilah Fernandes
        August 27, 2016 at 7:09 am

        Thanks for your response. I am quite excited to put this island together and we haven’t even moved yet! Do you think if you fixed the boards , the kallax would topple over if someone leaned on it?

        • Reply
          this natural dream
          August 27, 2016 at 9:06 pm

          I don’t believe so. That’s something we’ve never experienced nor felt like might happen. Though, I guess it should be noted this is where we keep potatoes, onions, jars of kombucha, etc. so it is pretty well weighted down. And I had forgotten to mention in the last comment that doors would make a nice clean touch! You might have to share a picture of your version with us 🙂


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